Uganda Cranes will open their African Cup of Nations campaign this weekend with an away fixture against Algeria, the two-time African champions.
Uganda seeks to return to the biggest continental showpiece after missing out on the last editions of the championship. Uganda is in Group F alongside Algeria, Tanzania, and Niger.
The top two teams will book slots in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to take place in Cote D’Ivoire.
Although Uganda Cranes Head coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic had earlier made it clear that he would prefer not to face any Arab country or any country from East Africa for fear of tricky fixtures, the draws did not go his way.
His side will now have to tussle it out with the Desert Fennecs of Algeria and their Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) counterparts in Tanzania.
According to available statistics, Uganda has not played Algeria in a competitive game for the last two decades.
However, the two sides have met in friendly games. Among the thirteen times the two teams have played, Uganda has managed to win 5 games, and registered 4 draws and 4 losses.
Uganda Cranes will enter their first AFCON Campaign without almost half of its stars who ended their national team careers.
These include former national team captain Denis Onyango, his assistant Hassan Wasswa, Murshid Juuko, Mike Azira, and Tonny Mawejje among others. Micho says their clash against Algeria will be a big assessment for Uganda Cranes in their quest to rebuild a strong team.
Micho also revealed that Uganda Cranes’ target is to secure ten points in the qualifiers if they are to reach their target of qualifying for the continental showpiece, adding that he believes his side is ready for positive results in the opening tie.
What should be done?
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network, Mujib Kasule, a former Uganda Cranes player and CAF instructor does not rule out the stiff competition that Uganda Cranes is set to face, but believes the team stands a big chance to qualify if they prepare well.
“Ugandans should be optimistic that Cranes has the ability to sail through this group. If we believe in ourselves and do the right things I think Uganda can manage at least to finish top or number two, but still qualify,” Kasule told Uganda Radio Network – URN.
Micho is oftentimes accused of playing a more defensive game, but Kasule says the style of play doesn’t matter so long as the team can qualify for AFCON.
On the contrary, George, Ssemwogerere, a former Cranes defender told URN that Uganda should target scoring an away goal to brighten their chances.
“If you are playing Algeria, you should not focus on defending because, by all means, you have to concede, the coach should put focus on attacking as they pay attention to defending,” Ssemwogerere briefly said.
He argued that although Algeria has a good ranking than Uganda, it is not a done deal.
“Algeria is not that a team that has been challenging Uganda Cranes, they have not outplayed us so much in the past, the only issue will come from the preparations and team selection, but if Uganda prepares well, they have a chance of a draw in the first game,” he said.
Uganda Cranes is currently residing in Tunisia where they have already played one build-up game against Hammam Sousse FC, which ended in 8-1 in favor of Uganda Cranes.
Striker Farouk Miya scored a hat trick, Allan Okello and Hakim Kiwanuka scored two goals respectively while Martin Kizza scored one goal.
After playing Algeria on June 4th, 2022, Uganda will return to Kampala to prepare for their next fixture that will be played four days later against Niger at St. Mary’s stadium in Kitende.